Smithers Pira: Development in raw materials drives innovation for 3D print industry

The 3D printing industry is set to grow exponentially

Although still in its infancy, the 3D printing industry is set to grow exponentially. It is forecast to grow from $5.8 billion in 2015 and exceed $50 billion in the next ten years.

As the use of 3D printing and prototyping becomes more sophisticated Smithers Pira new report The Future of 3D Printing Materials for Industrial Applications to 2026 addresses the new 3D processes and materials that have been developed to improve overall 3D printing capabilities. Raw material developments are in tandem with the development of new printing technology. These improvements open up many more industrial sectors to 3D printing.

The five largest market application sectors for 3D printing are aerospace, automotive, medical, consumer products and prototyping. These markets were early adopters of 3D printing and today account for more than 50% of the 3D printing industry value. These markets are also very much in sync with the key trends driving increasing 3D printing and raw material demand.

“The singular overriding trend that will drive 3D printing to rapidly grow and replace traditional manufacturing is the reduction in 3D printing costs.” states Howard Blum, author of the report.

“Despite today’s higher cost of using 3D technology for typical commercial scale part manufacturing, the technology does have a distinct cost benefit in certain market situations”.

These market applications include custom one off parts such as hearing aids and new product prototype designs. Raw materials in particular are a very important consideration in 3D printing, representing about 25% of overall 3D printing industry value. New raw materials have been developed spanning a large number of types and forms (e.g. filaments, liquids and powder), performance and cost, including: thermoplastics, photopolymers, metals and ceramics and fibres, fillers and additives. The raw material value for the global industrial sector is about $1.4 billion and is expected to grow at almost 25% CAGR, exceeding $15 billion by 2026. The fastest growing raw material sector is metals, expected to exceed 30% CAGR for the forecast period.

As the overall global manufacturing industry increasingly embraces the benefits of 3D printing, and as the economics of use become more attractive, it is expected that the number of different raw materials consumed will also increase. The combination of new printer technology goes hand-in-hand with the use of new raw material formulations and therefore the availability of applicable raw materials can help to drive the use of new printer technologies.

The Future of 3D Printing Materials for Industrial Applications to 2026 is based on extensive primary and secondary research. Primary research included interviews with industry experts across the globe. Secondary research included analysis of Smithers Pira’s comprehensive printing industry database, as well as additional information gathered from a wide range of printing associations, suppliers and key global industry contacts. The Future of 3D Printing Materials for Industrial Applications to 2026 provides a unique depth of information and analysis.